Harrison Mills promised to find ways to increase student dining options on campus, improve organizational block seating at athletic events and work with university leaders to find alternative and safer student transportation options at night. As 2013-14 Auburn University SGA President and a senior accounting student in the Harbert College of Business, Mills kept his word.
Maybe that’s why Mills, a Snellville, Ga., native and current Master of Accountancy student, was an easy summer intern choice for accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. Leadership has its advantages.
“They (PwC) saw that I was keeping my grades up and that I was working hard,” said Mills, who graduated with his BSBA in May. “In my free time, I wasn’t just sitting on the couch playing Xbox. I was out there trying to solve problems and thinking critically outside of the box.”
Mills’ role as SGA President also helped mold him personally and professionally.
“I feel like a lot of my soft skills were developed,” he said, referring to constant communication with peers and plenty of group interaction. “I think this has prepared me to be a better accountant in the future. I’m not sure where I’m going to go in my public accounting career. I’ll take opportunities when they are presented, but I definitely see myself in a management position.”
There was a time when Mills, the son of an auditor for the USDA, didn’t see accounting in his future.
“We never really understood what my dad (Rick Mills) did,” he joked. “It (accounting) always looked and sounded boring to me. I came to school thinking I was going to do Army ROTC and political science, and I thought about law school. Those didn’t work out, and I lost interest in them.”
Then, after Mills signed up for a financial accounting class in 2010 and scored a 97 on his first exam, his future became clear.
“It just clicked,” he explained. “I thought it might have been a genetic thing. People joke in the accounting department that everybody has at least one family member who is in accounting. My dad is definitely influential and encouraging. As I work on my classes, I can always turn to him and ask him for a higher level perspective or real world perspective on some of my course work.”
Mills credited the School of Accountancy with giving him all of the “tools I need as far as preparing me to pursue not only a master’s degree, but pass the CPA exam on my first try. It also helped me develop my ability to collaborate and work as a team. Our group projects have helped prepare me to be an auditor where working in a team environment is critical.”